Friesland IJsselmeer coast natural climate buffer

The drought in recent years has prompted Rijkswaterstaat – the executive branch of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management – to raise the summer water level of Lake IJsselmeer. This is necessary to ensure a sufficient supply of fresh water in the Netherlands during dry and warm periods. However, raising the water level may cause erosion in the low-lying nature reserves and beaches in the IJsselmeer region. This will pose a threat to nature in these areas. To prevent erosion, the national government and several parties in the province of Friesland have been working on the Improvement of Friesland IJsselmeer Coast project since 2020.

What measures will be taken?

In the years ahead, the collaborating parties will be investing nearly 17 million euros in the protection of the Friesland IJsselmeer coast. The national government will be investing 12 million euros in coastal reinforcement, whilst local and regional governments in Friesland will be investing 4.9 million euros in linking the coastal improvement to measures aimed at improving nature. Furthermore, they are capitalising on the coastal improvement to invest in leisure activities and cultural heritage. The work is scheduled to start in 2022 and will be completed by 2024.

View the video below for an impression of the Friesland IJsselmeer coast:

Where will the Friesland IJsselmeer coast be reinforced?

The national government and the Friesland governments will be improving and reinforcing five locations along the Frisian IJsselmeer coast:

  • Workum: the Workumerwaard and Stoenckhere nature reserves will be expanded and improved in order to prevent erosion. The Workumerwaard reserve comprises the Workumer Binnenwaard and the Workumer Buitenwaard. At the Workumer Buitenwaard, Lake IJsselmeer features a natural border consisting of shell deposits and herbaceous grassland, which is a breeding ground for many meadow birds, terns, and black-headed gulls. Nowadays, however, the Workumer Buitenwaard tends to flood during the breeding season, as a result of which fewer eggs hatch. To prevent future flooding, the Buitenwaard will be raised and widened. This will also provide better storm protection for the embankment behind the Workumer Buitenwaard.
  • Hindeloopen: the beach near Hindeloopen will be restored to combat erosion. Additionally, the measures are intended to draw more visitors to the beaches south of Hindeloopen.
  • Gaasterland: the Hege Gerzen and It Mirnser Klif beaches will be expanded and protected against erosion through sand replenishment, i.e., sand deposits to create additional beach area.
  • Mokkebank – Laaksum: The Mokkebank shoal is a nature reserve in Lake IJsselmeer, in the vicinity of the village of Laaksum. The parties will be pursuing a natural water level here: in winter, the water level will be high, whilst in summer, it will be low. This is conducive to the reeds that have disappeared at many locations along the IJsselmeer coast. Reeds attract spawning fish, and the bittern likes to breed here. Furthermore, it may induce the great reed warbler to return. In addition, a natural water level provides more protection for the dyke behind.
  • Lemmer – Tacozijl: a floodplain polder near Tacozijl will be converted into flooded grassland. During extreme precipitation, this area can fill up with water. In spring, farm grassland will be covered by a thin layer of water, in which young fish can thrive. The province of Friesland used to have up to 100,000 hectares of such grassland in spring, virtually none of which remains today. By restoring such grassland, the parties aim to restore part of the ancient Frisian cultural landscape. Furthermore, this polder is situated on the former trade route to the town of Sloten. Once the work has been completed, both the old and the new way of living with water can be viewed from a footpath and from a bicycle path. With a view to improving nature and combating waterlogging, more floodplains may be used as water storage areas

Contact person

Chris Bakker
+31(0)512 - 30 58 60

Results appeared on
Project type
Completed measure
Rijk, Provincie Fryslân, gemeenten Súdwest-Fryslân en De Fryske Marren, Wetterskip Fryslân & It Fryske Gea
Urban flooding
Type of project
Completed, In progress